Gusto 101 (★★★)
This King Street West outgrowth of Yorkville’s Nervosa is a bustling forum for suited professionals and hipsters alike. Both Gusto and Nervosa are easy-going but Gusto is a flamboyant ‘joint’, not unlike a rowdy bar to Nervosa’s café feel. A harsh industrial tone surrounds this up-and-coming neighbourhood. The waiters are dressed in t-shirts and jump hurriedly between flirtatious couples (of all ages). It is so edgy and noisy that conscientious food tasters might quickly become disoriented. The food is similarly forward. My rustic-inspired order was a tripartite of spice-crusted chicken, roasted potato and sautéed spinach. Big flavours vie for dominance on a miniscule plate but it is the perfectly cooked quarter chicken, cut-through as nonchalantly as the rest of the dish that takes prominence. And the commotion continues in your mouth as the Moroccan spices dissolved so richly into the skin hit higher and higher notes. The potatoes and spinach serve as a palate cleanser, a mute to this cacophony. The entire experience is numbing and even unbecoming at times. But it serves a purpose. It is welcome sometimes, just not all the time.
In keeping with the tradition established during Summerlicious ’12, I will be giving ratings to restaurants I dine at. These ratings range from 1 to 5 stars and take into consideration food, service, atmosphere, price, etc. These ratings will be preliminary, or perfunctory for that matter (stars in brackets) until three items from the menu have been tasted (again, in the tradition of Summerlicious). You will still be best served reading the description instead of simply relying on a rating.